Harold Camping Week: Day 6 / Sober Up

This is the end of the tract. As I sit here, thankful that I am at the end of it, I am reminded of my Savior. I am thankful for His perfect obedience that led Him to the cross to atone for every one of my sins. I am thankful that I am not burdened by the law, but that His load is light. I am thankful for His perfect and awesome Word. Please remember that Mr. Camping’s words are in green, my words are in blue, and all quotes are in red.

A SOLEMN WARNING TO THOSE IN THE CHURCHES

A knowledge of the actual time of the Rapture and an understanding of Judgment Day is of enormous significance. God warns in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 of the Day of Judgment coming to destroy those who deny that near the end of the world the true believers will know the time (the hour) of Christ’s coming to bring to Heaven (to rapture) the true believers and to begin the Day of Judgment (the day). There God tells us:

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

Mr. Camping tells us that it is very important to know when the Rapture and Judgment Day will happen. He then makes the assertion that 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 speaks of God destroying those who think people like Harold Camping are wrong… you know… the type of people who claim they know the exact date for the Rapture and Judgment Day. This means he believes people like me who reject his “math” and “research” won’t be raptured. Instead, he says I will spend Saturday having God pour wrath all over me. Well, let’s take a look at 1 Thessalonians 5. We have seen that so far he has been completely wrong about the other Scriptures he appeals to, maybe he’ll actually get this one right?

VERSE 1: Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers,you have no need to have anything written to you.

Paul assures them that disclosing times and seasons is not something they need written to them. According to Harold Camping, Paul will be speaking of Judgment Day (day of the Lord), a date that is still in our future. He believes Paul is telling his immediate audience here about things that will happen 2,000 years into the future. According to Camping, the times and seasons were something God purposed to reveal to true believers in our day. Will Paul tell them, “Times and seasons don’t need to be disclosed to you because they will only be revealed a very long time from now?” We will see.

VERSE 2: For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

Again, Mr. Camping believes this to be the rapture & Judgment Day. But Paul is speaking of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. We spoke about this in [Harold Camping Week: Day 5 / Painting By Numbers]. “The Day of the Lord” is a phrase used throughout Scripture that is associated with the wrath of God in general. Consider Amos 5:18-26,

Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD!
Why would you have the day of the LORD?
It is darkness, and not light, as if a man fled from a lion,
and a bear met him,
or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
and a serpent bit him. Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it? “I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.
 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
 But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. “Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god—your images that you made for yourselves,

It might appear to Camping and others that Amos is speaking of the end of the world. But, Amos concludes chapter 5 with verse 27 that reads,

“and I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,” says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts.”

Amos here is not speaking of the end of the world, but of the coming judgment of God against the Jews in his day.

Paul speaks of God’s judgment as coming like a thief in the night. In other words, just as a thief doesn’t announce his arrival beforehand, this judgment would come suddenly and unexpectedly.

VERSE 3: While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

The irony is that people were saying, “Peace and security!” without knowing that destruction was upon them, and the Judge was at the door as the Apostle James had said. This detail is interesting because “Peace and Security” or “Pax et Securitas” was aRoman slogan of that day – specifically part of Augustan propaganda. The Roman Empire was also in a time of “Pax Romana” known as “Roman Peace.” It was a period of about 200 years of peace established by Caesar Augustus.

VERSE 4: But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.

Okay, as I mentioned earlier, Paul tells his audience that they won’t need time and seasons written to them. Here he tells them they aren’t in the darkness, and that the day of the Lord won’t come like a thief to them. That is, it won’t surprise them. Harold Camping believes that this verse speaks to him and those who hold his beliefs because they do know the time and season. Let’s see if Paul supports this.

VERSE 5: For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.

It won’t surprise them because they are children of the day, and not of the darkness. Ok, it seems like Paul isn’t exactly contradicting Harold Camping here. Let’s keep reading.

VERSE 6: So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.

VERSE 7: For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.

Sleep and drunkenness are both states in which someone can be taken off guard. When I’m asleep, I am unaware of my surroundings. If I am drunk, my judgment is altered. Paul uses these as illustrations of someone who is in spiritual darkness. He urges his readers to be awake and sober. That is, he tells them to be alert and discerning. Is it by knowing exact dates? Paul continues –

VERSE 8: But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

It doesn’t seem like Paul has mentioned anything about people being destroyed who don’t know exact dates. Again, Harold Camping said,

“God warns in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 of the Day of Judgment coming to destroy those who deny that near the end of the world the true believers will know the time (the hour) of Christ’s coming to bring to Heaven (to rapture) the true believers and to begin the Day of Judgment (the day).”

Where does 1 Thessalonians say this again? We went through the Scripture. In fact, the apostle Paul tells his audience that “we belong to the day.” Is THIS because they know exact dates? No. It is because these have “put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” These aren’t literal articles of clothing, but symbols. He is telling them that they are in the light because of faith in the gospel and the love of God that guards our hearts and the hope of salvation that guards our minds. Basically it is all because of Jesus Christ.

This “sobriety” would be expressed in that these believers would remember the words of Christ on the Mount of Olives telling them to flee to the mountains when this day should begin.

Consider Matthew’s account of the “abomination of desolation.” Matthew is speaking to a Jewish audience that would need no explanation of the abomination of desolation. He often uses terms that a Jewish audience would understand. Christ calls their attention to Daniel 9. For a full study on Daniel 9 [click here].

“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” [Matthew 24:15-16]

Now, let’s consider Luke’s account of the same event. He is not speaking to an audience that would necessarily understand Jewish references, and so he explains what the abomination of desolation is.

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it,” [Luke 21:20-21]

Luke tells us this “holy place” is Jerusalem. Consider Mark’s account:

“But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. [Mark 13:14]

Certainly, the Roman armies stood where they didn’t belong. This was an abominable nation that sought the desolation of Jerusalem. They were the abomination that makes desolate. It is plain to see that he is speaking of the Roman armies. In [Harold Camping Week: Day 4 / A Closed Book Now Open] we saw how the believers remembered this prophecy of Christ and that none of them were destroyed in the Roman siege.

VERSE 9: For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

God ‘s elect people will not endure His wrath, but have everlasting life through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

VERSE 10: Who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.

He died in our place, and we have died with Him, buried with Him, that we might also live with Him.

VERSE 11: Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

I just don’t see how Camping reads the Bible this way. It’s safe to say that this was another failed attempt.

*

In Revelation 16:15 Christ teaches that He, Himself, will come as a thief (see also Revelation 3:3). Christ obviously is not a thief. He is Holy God. But He and Judgment Day will come like a thief. In John 10:10 God describes what a thief does when He comes: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”

Thus when Christ comes with Judgment Day, He comes to take away life and to destroy those for whom He comes as a thief.

It’s important to note that the book of Revelation sets its own framework for how events should be understood. Does the book of Revelation as a whole even refer to events in our future? No. Although there are events recorded that are still future to us, the majority of the events in the book of Revelation is in our past.

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.” [Revelation 1:1]

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” [Revelation 1:3]

“Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.” [Revelation 3:10]

“And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” [Revelation 22:6]

“And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” [Revelation 22:10]

Christ does teach that He will come as a thief in Revelation 16:15. Let’s take a look at Revelation 16:13-21. Remember, it is a prophetic book. It uses imagery, symbolism and hyperbolic language.

VERSE 13: And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs.

The dragon, beast, and false prophet appear to be like some sort of unholy trinity. This is similar to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They have come together and out of their mouths come unclean spirits LIKE frogs. Where have you seen frogs before? In the book of Exodus, frogs were used against Egypt in judgment. In like manner, these unclean spirits (like frogs) will be poured out on the new Egypt, Jerusalem.

I know what you’re thinking. “Woah, woah, woah! No YOU sound like Harold Camping! Nowhere does this say that Jerusalem is the NEW Egypt!” And you’d be right. But, if we go to Revelation 11:8, we will see that the book of Revelation has defined some terms for us:

“and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.”

Sodom and Egypt, where the Lord was crucified? I thought He was crucified just outside of Jerusalem? He was. But here, God compares Jerusalem to His enemies of the past.

VERSE 14: For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.

At this point in history, Rome has undergone both internal and external rebellion and is weakened. There was rebellion in Great Britain, a Jewish rebellion, a great fire in Rome in A.D. 64, Germanic revolts, and Nero had killed himself. Nero cut his own throat, killing himself. After his death, the Roman Empire collapsed and appeared as though it was gone for good.  The Julian-Claudian line had ended. Historians like Josephus and Tacitus described those days as rich with disasters. This was the best time for the allies to ignore anything Rome said.

But, these unclean spirits went forth to ensure a great army would come together against Jerusalem. This army has a purpose. It was “assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.” Another reference to Christ’s coming in judgment upon them.

The prophet Joel speaks of this day in Joel 2:1-11,

“Blow a trumpet in Zion;
sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near, a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful people;
their like has never been before,
nor will be again after them
through the years of all generations.

Fire devours before them,
and behind them a flame burns.
The land is like the garden of Eden before them,
but behind them a desolate wilderness,
and nothing escapes them. Their appearance is like the appearance of horses,
and like war horses they run.
 As with the rumbling of chariots,
they leap on the tops of the mountains,
like the crackling of a flame of fire
devouring the stubble,
like a powerful army
drawn up for battle.

Before them peoples are in anguish;
all faces grow pale.
 Like warriors they charge;
like soldiers they scale the wall.
They march each on his way;
they do not swerve from their paths.
 They do not jostle one another;
each marches in his path;
they burst through the weapons
and are not halted.
 They leap upon the city,
they run upon the walls,
they climb up into the houses,
they enter through the windows like a thief.

The earth quakes before them;
the heavens tremble.
The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.
 The LORD utters his voice
before his army,
for his camp is exceedingly great;
he who executes his word is powerful.
For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome;
who can endure it?”

He then says,

“And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
 Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.” [Joel 2:28-32]

Interestingly, the apostle Peter (at Pentecost) spoke of this Scripture too at Pentecost,

“But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” [Acts 2:16-21]

The signs at Pentecost were those that would accompany the days just before the “day of the Lord.”

VERSE 15: (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”)

VERSE 16: And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

This is a place in Northern Israel. It was a mountain in which fortifications were built in which Israel could avoid attacks from the North. Nonetheless, it was attacked and destroyed several times. It was overtaken by Tiglath-Pileser II with the Assyrians, then taken back by the Israelites. It was then abandoned during the Babylonian exile. It represents Jerusalem, which was a city on a hill.

VERSE 17: The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”

VERSE 18: And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.

VERSE 19: The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.

This “great city” that fell was Jerusalem. Remember Revelation 11:8 – ““and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.”

VERSE 20: And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found.

VERSE 21: And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.

Jewish historian, Josephus actually recounts this event.

“the catapults that all the legions had ready prepared for them, were admirably contrived; but still more extraordinary ones belonged to the tenth legion those that threw darts and those that threw stones… the stones that were cast were of the weight of talent, and were carried two furlongs or further. As for the Jews, they at first watched the coming of the stone, for it was of a white color.” [Josephus, Wars V.6.3]

I am quoting Revelation from the ESV translation of the Bible. This version speaks of the hailstones being one hundred pounds each. This weight can also be named “one talent.” Revelation 16:21 speaks of hail stones falling weighing one talent, and Josephus describes the stones from catapults being white and weighing one talent.

Christ mentioning that He would come as a thief here is not regarding some future event, but the way it had come unexpectedly for those who did not regard His words.

*

THE THIEF COMES IN THE NIGHT

Christ and Judgment Day come in the night. In 1 Thessalonians 5:3 Christ tells us, “When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” Because destruction comes upon them, we can know for certain that these people are not saved. Being unsaved, they are in spiritual darkness. They are in the night. Judgment Day is coming for them as a “thief in the night.” Yet they believe they are at peace with God and safely under His care. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

We have already demonstrated that those who are “in the dark” are “in the dark” because they don’t have faith in the gospel. The gospel is the power of God to save people from their sins. It is the good news that because of Christ’s atonement on the cross, the wrath of God is satisfied for those who believe.

But Camping is about to explain to us who these “unbelievers” are. Here we go.

*

The language of this verse describes perfectly all of those in the world who on May 21, 2011 are still identified with any church. Because churches teach many things that are not true to the Bible they are now under the judgment of God (1 Peter 4:17). Therefore, according to the warning of 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 we must sadly realize they are not saved.

Remember, churches teach their members that:

  1. They as confessing members of their church are safely in Christ’s care.
  2. No man can know the day or hour of Christ’s return. Therefore, they are certain that Christ will come as a thief in the night.

These dear people do not realize at all that they, themselves, are in spiritual nighttime, a condition that guarantees that when Christ comes they, themselves, will be destroyed in the Day of Judgment. How awful! It is the true believers who know the time (the hour) and much about Judgment Day (the day). They are not in the nighttime of spiritual darkness.

Actually, the language of these verse fits perfectly with those who lived during Rome’s time of peace. Nothing you have said, Mr. Camping, has fit perfectly into anything except your own mind.

He quotes 1 Peter 4:7,

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”

Peter wrote this to a particular audience at a particular point in time. Don’t get me wrong here, I still believe that Christ will return one day and that there will be a general resurrection and a judgment. But, just because a verse says the word “end” doesn’t mean it denoted the “end” of the world. Peter says that the end of all things is at hand. At hand means that it is there. Jesus, during His earthly ministry, said, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” At hand doesn’t mean 2,000 + years.

Peter gives them the same exact advice that Paul gave in 1 Thessalonians – to be sober-minded. Destruction was coming.

Camping points to two reasons why God has rejected these churches:

1. They as confessing members of their church are safely in Christ’s care.

I know that there are many unbiblical churches out there, but he’s throwing a blanket over everything. The churches that confess the gospel are not safely in Christ’s care?

2. No man can know the day or hour of Christ’s return. Therefore, they are certain that Christ will come as a thief in the night.

I can’t think of a church I was ever a member of that taught that Christ would come as a thief to believers. And many of them were churches that taught the Rapture view, the Tribulation view, etc. That’s because, instead of isolating verses, they’d actually read the verses that surrounded it. I understand that this is a foreign idea for Mr. Camping because none of these churches could possibly read the bible as correctly as he does. He expects us to read and interpret his writings using the historical grammatical method. Perhaps the Bible is too “godly” or something for him to do that. Rather, we should just spiritualize it from cover to cover until it means nothing. Then we can make people believe anything. If you don’t mind, Mr. Camping, I will stick to the historical grammatical method of Scriptural interpretation because your method would leave me just feeling like a filthy blasphemer. And this is why….

*

REMEMBER, God is very, very merciful and loving. There is hope for anyone who humbly cries, who begs, and beseeches God that maybe they, too, might become saved.

It’s great news that we can cry out to be saved from Judgment day? This still leaves me in my sins. By the way, I sin all the time. It’s in my blood. I was conceived in it, and I was born in it. Been sinning ever since. Am I to assume that through my cries of mercy to God to save me from Judgment Day, my sins would be forgiven? I don’t need Jesus for this. Camping may disagree, but Christ just hasn’t made enough of an appearance in any of this for me to think that He even matters to this group.

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